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I. Introduction: History & Background

I. Introduction: History & Background

New Mexico has had a reporter's privilege on the books since 1967. In 1973, following the United States Supreme Court's decision in Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972), the statute was lengthened and strengthened. But in 1976, the New Mexico Supreme Court held the statute unconstitutional to the extent that it purported to regulate matters of procedure in the state courts by creating a rule of evidence.

I. Introduction: History & Background

Journalists in Wisconsin have a qualified privilege against testifying in both civil and criminal proceedings. This court-recognized privilege, based on both the state and federal constitutions, applies regardless of whether the journalist obtained the information from a confidential or non-confidential source.

I. Introduction: History & Background

There is no definitive or authoritative law in Alaska concerning a news reporter's privilege. There are no significant appellate court rulings on the issue. There is a mediocre shield law that is of little consequence. However, the privilege has been asserted in a number of trial court cases over the past 25 years. In virtually all of these, the press interests have been represented by the author of this outline, and in none of them has a reporter been compelled to testify.

I. Introduction: History & Background

Kansas does not have a shield statute, although support for such a measure appears to be on the rise. The case law governing actions in the state courts is poorly developed. In the federal courts, the decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit control. These decisions recognize and apply a relatively strong qualified privilege.

I. Introduction: History & Background

Nevada is often recognized as having the strongest shield law in the country. The law protects unpublished and published materials and protects the confidential sources of libel defendants.

I. Introduction: History & Background

Generally speaking, the status of the reporter's privilege in West Virginia is strong. Although the contours of the privilege are not as developed as they are through caselaw in other states, and there is no statutory shield law, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has fashioned a strong privilege to protect reporters, especially in civil cases. Because of the strength of the privilege, incidences of reporters being jailed or fined over privilege issues have been exceedingly rare in West Virginia.

I. Introduction: History & Background

In Alabama, a reporter has an absolute privilege to refrain from disclosing sources of information obtained in the newsgathering process under Alabama's shield statute, codified at Ala. Code § 12-21-142, provided that the information obtained from the source has been published, broadcast, or televised. Alabama also recognizes a qualified reporter's privilege under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I. Introduction: History & Background

There have been few developments in Kentucky with regard to reporter's privilege since Branzburg v. Hayes, which originated in Kentucky, was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1972. Kentucky has had a shield statute since the 1930s. The statute provides limited protection, however, shielding reporters only from being forced to disclose the identities of their confidential sources. The statute has never faced constitutional challenge and is limited in this aspect only by the state court decision in Branzburg. Branzburg v. Pound, 461 S.W.2d 345 (Ky.

I. Introduction: History & Background

The New York reporters privilege, codified in Civil Rights Law § 79-h (the "Shield Law"), provides broad protection to reporters and publishers. As originally enacted, the statute only applied to materials or information given in confidence to the reporter. However, various amendments, some in response to judicial decisions, expanded the statute so that it now protects both confidential and nonconfidential information from disclosure.

I. Introduction: History & Background

Anecdotal evidence indicates that few subpoenas are issued to news organizations in Wyoming. The subpoenas that have been issued usually ask the reporter to testify that his or her story is accurate. The infrequent use of subpoenas on news organizations may explain why the state has never enacted a shield law, or why there is no case law from the Wyoming Supreme Court, the state's only appellate court, regarding the service of subpoenas on news organizations. The only known case in Wyoming where a news organization moved to quash a subpoena took place in U.S.